Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ishmael, By Daniel Quinn

Another of the many attempts to come up with some sort of new mythology that replaces thousands of years of western spiritual and philosophical life with a pagan pseudo-religious view of the universe and mans place in it.

In this story a man answers an ad in a newspaper by a "teacher" looking for a "student" that has a desire to "change the world". It turns out the teacher is a telepathic gorilla named "Ishmael", and the "lesson" is that "Mother Culture" (Western Culture) was created by "the takers" and is a planet and life destroying disaster. 

The world is divided into two; those that divide the world in two, and those who don't (little joke). "Leavers" ... essentially "hunter gatherers" and all the other animal species on the planet, and "Takers", farmers and the entire culture that was created because of people living in a fixed place, raising surplus crops so time could be spent on thought and technology.

Some of the random thoughts from the book:
  • The planet is being "destroyed", but maybe the end result will just be that man will be destroyed. The point is "we have no choice" -- getting rid of these "takers" is an emergency!
  • There ARE some sort of "rules" ... the book postulates "gods" that set them up. The pinnacle of "success" according to these "rules" is held out as the American Indian. 
  • Leavers / Hunter Gathers good ... Takers / Farmers bad ... and of course the "mark of Cain" is the "maggot colored white man". 
  • Man has no "original sin", it is the "taker culture" that is responsible for all ill. Yet another version of the "Noble Savage" myth.
  • "We all live in a prison" -- returning to some version of "leaver culture" will repair all ills. Our "culture" creates the "fish not knowing about being wet" problem  (I suspect a little time spent in the woods with a loincloth eating grubs might make the "leaver culture" slightly less desirable) 
  • Naturally, the distribution of wealth and power in "the prison" is unjust in the extreme ... and again, the problem is those nasty white males. 
That covers most of the main points.

What amazes me about books like this is how completely common they are and how much their basic world views are IDENTICAL ( here is a Thom Hartman ... anything by him is about the same). The view is essentially:
  1. Some version of a "Nobel Savage" myth ... "return to nature and all is good". 
  2. No need for God -- either this is all there is, or the next life is cool with whatever you do here ... maybe unless you like work hard and create things or something evil like that. 
  3. Everything is currently screwed up, but it is "the fault" of "western culture, white men, corporations, money, technology or ... "something"". It can be "fixed" by throwing away pretty much all of current culture, taking off our clothes and having some sort of back to nature free love thing. 
  4. "Somehow" ... if we just tear down what is, things will get really really good -- "trust us". 
BO actually summarized it pretty well -- "Hope and Change" don't ya know!

What is clear to me is that man has a "Christ shaped hole", and once Christ is rejected he is prone to believe in just about anything -- however it always ends up having a "shape" that pretty much looks like Lucifer for some reason -- maybe in an ape suit, maybe a cute lass with some minimal fern trim, or maybe just looking like a snake peddling an apple.

The road to Hell has never been hard to find!

No comments:

Post a Comment